Thursday, June 20, 2013


She strikes without warning and once she's here, she prefers to stay a while. Today, she found me in the garage, a clean 15 seconds after I'd pulled in. So she offered to sweep my garage floor while I shuffled around, peering at paint cans and stashing junk.

I always hoped I wouldn't have to try at these things by now, but it turns out I'm still me. My heart still prefers quiet and alone, I'm just learning to push past it, to go to what needs me.

We talked family and God while I tried not to think of the time. Her story changed three times in as many minutes and the floor of a garage was only meant to be so clean, so I invited her out to the garden with me, to poke around and pull the weeds.

It kind of took her breath away. Then again, she's a bit of a push-over.

To call it a "garden" is a stretch. It's four boxes, laid out purposefully in a grid.
It's small, but it felt like a serious undertaking when we launched it and we knew we might fail.
Things are growing. Except for the beans. So we cut our losses and started over. That's why we're here - we're here to grow beans. We're stubbornly resolute, sometimes beyond comfortable or judicious reason.

There's no shade near our garden, it's awfully close to the alley, and I never pictured myself with one foot in the street and the other in the tomatoes, calling life from the dirt when I'm tired and my back is hot. But trying to see the future is overrated, the very recipe for disappointment, and my heart is shifting right along with my garden paradigm.

Earlier today I drove across town, across the tracks, to stout rows of pepper plants and over-eager onions, everything penned in by sunflowers, eight feet tall. It was everything I want, all that I've dared to hope for. For just a moment, I wanted to sit over there, be friends with the farmer.  I was inspired up to the moment that the soil turned from admiration to envy and isn't envy the meanest snake in the garden? The pesticide of creativity and courage?

Back home, my garden looked all the more like child's play and I worried over my second-chance beans, lurking somewhere, maybe. Not at all ready to talk.

But we had made our plans, we'd watered and waited, we'd done our part. Not everything is up to us. It's a leap of faith and this was the garden we were given.

So we won't begrudge its smallness, because a bloom is a bloom, and just one is miracle enough.
We won't ignore it for its bent toward the ordinary or pine ourselves into a tailspin, running in reverse toward something already past its season.

We won't agonize that we weren't invited to be part of the big garden walk, we won't take it personally or send our trying into flailing over-drive. We won't lose sleep over our thumbs, lightish green and only to the knuckle.

There's no time for that. There's work to be done and these four little boxes fall in our jurisdiction. Who else is going to weed them? Who else will count it a highlight of the day to watch the growth from the vantage point of a bent, dirty knee? Who else will moon over every burst of life and grieve the dang beans?

It's way too early to anticipate the harvest, but we trust that something will flourish. Something will. And when it does, we'll pluck it up. We'll throw a party, a harvest dinner for the ages. We'll smack our foreheads over our doubts. We'll graze our fingertips across our lips in wonder.

It doesn't matter at all if no one ever creeps down the alley at a nosy coast or asks for a sampling of our lettuce. This was the garden we were given, so we'll tend our boxes with trust and care.
We won't ever wish them away.


  1. shannan.
    the holy spirit sure has a way through you.


    1. I agree! Shannan, the Holy Spirit is all over your words. It gives me chills, and it scares me a little because I'm not in this place yet. But, I want to be.

  2. "So we won't begrudge its smallness, because a bloom is a bloom, and just one is miracle enough."


  3. SO much said in this post.......

  4. thank you for this. you have no idea how many times i have thought about you and wondered if you ever struggle with envy/jealousy. i didn't before, but it catches me at my weakest now. last week i reminded myself again & again that "this is the home we were given." and really what's better than a home/garden/whatever that you know without a shadow of a doubt was given by God. we were plucked up & placed HERE. how cool is that!

    i always read your posts. unlike yourself i process quietly. love you much!!!

  5. i totally know what you mean when you use the word grieve over your beans! what is it about tending a garden that makes us grieve when we fail at it even in the smallest ways? can't we remember the bounty in just one seed? i'm not sure but it may be that we sense that every little thing matters even the tiniest little things have energy. and then of course there is mercy which isn't tiny at all. and mercy for ourselves is the hardest to remember.

  6. thanks so much Shannon. just what I needed to hear this morning.

  7. So many life lessons in a garden. Love this post.

    P.S.- You can come pick my dang beans any day of the week.

  8. You are such a gifted writer, beautiful post, especially "this is the garden we have been given." Thanks for the lift.

  9. My goodness girl, I don't know why you would question if you're a writer or not!! YOU ARE!!!

    The story you paint with your words is soooo rich and thick- definitely Holy Spirit work!!

    You are such a blessing<3

  10. We must bloom where we're planted....

  11. Such great writing here...You are tending an actual garden but in reality are tending to a much greater "garden" of people right where you are. Love.

  12. Love your garden. It's still a garden. One year I lived on the 10 the floor. The guy on the 9th floor directly below me had a container garden of tomatoes. They were awesome, and just growing on his balcony. A garden is a garden.

  13. Dear Flowerpatch farmgirl
    You are so inspirational....your garden flourishes everywhere your words sure fruit is already ripening! Am closer to God because of you for sure.
    Thank you.

  14. Beautiful, encouraging, gently convicting. You have a gift, Shannan.

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  16. You are amazing Shannon. You make me smile every day. All those people in your life, they are so lucky to have you.

  17. I need you to keep talking like this. I feel like we've just had coffee (or hot chocolate, in my case) and you've given me so much to think about. I'm sorry you've probably gotten nothing out of our pseudo coffee-date. Lets pretend I let you hold the baby, k? Thank yoU!

  18. oh gracious love. Your words never fail to move me. Counting down the days til we meet :-) one day right?

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  21. " is closer to God in a garden then anywhere else on earth." You nailed it. LOVED the opening reminder. Thats the message I come here to remember most; ministering to strangers. The reminders to be wary of the serpent of envy was also timely. I leave reinvigerated(and ready to wake my sleeping beauties for vbs). God bless you n your ENORMOUS garden! You tend so many hearts!

  22. Love love love this post. Feels like balm to my heart as we navigate new pieces of urban living. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Not sure how I missed this post, but dang if it doesn't just sum up a big chunk of life.

    I LOVEd it.

    Watering our own grass, right?! ;) I'm with you, sister!! xoxo